Welcome back to the 3rd installment of What Now?, in which we introduce imaginary snowboarders who haven’t done anything else to new activities.
WHEEE! Look how fast he’s going! All photos: Tim Zimmerman
Our stuff kinda sucks. You need special jackets goggles racks gloves cars money gear. Mountains. With snow on them. It’s a bummer putting all your winter gear back in the closet, but it’s important to not hang on too long. You could find yourself in the rain at Crystal Mountain, surrounded by skiers, desperately forcing A GOOD TIME, BRO! Keeping your stoke going with a summertime activity is essential in avoiding frustration. But how?
Skateboarding’s pretty much impossible, especially if you’re old (and let’s face it–if you’re a skateboarder you’re not reading YoBeat). Wakeboarding requires a boat and a lake and a crew of little flat brim hat guys, so fuck that. Surfing? You’re too smart for surfing, bro. Road biking’s gonna get you killed by some sexting driver, hiking is pretty slow, the Gathering Of The Juggalos is only one week long…
We know what you’re thinking. It’s clearly almost fall, he should be waxing his snowboard. But no, he’s having fun, outdoors!
What’s left? Howzbout some mountain biking? You like bikes, you like mountains: you’re gonna love mountain biking! Being a snowboarder, you’re going to fit right in. Expensive gear, dorky tech nerds, a billion opinions on what’s the right way to do everything, secret zones, localism, more nerds, swooping, mobbing, bailing, animal attacks. Just like snowboarding.
This is gonna be so sick. So sick!
A little history first: mountain bikes were invented by Jake Burton and Rob Roskopp. That’s all you really need to know. Who really cares? History’s for nerds. This shit’s about brapping around in the dirt. Having fun.
That little thing under him with the wheels? That’s a bike!
STEP ONE: get a bike
Borrow a friend’s bike first. If you don’t have a MTB friend, make one: approach a lonely mountain biker at a brew pub (he’ll look a little like ultimate fighter-meets-Pastrana-meets-attorney-skier. He’ll answer to “Chad.”). Most avid mountain bikers have way too much shit, and you can borrow from their quivers to start out. Just grab one and go. Just like pretty much all snowboards work in pow, most any of these bikes will be fine. Klunkers with coaster brakes, hardtail 29ers, full-suspension bikes, it doesn’t matter yet.
This is not recommended at step 2. Maybe start on the flat ground.
STEP TWO: ride the thing
Just pedal around. Fall over a few times, it’s not too bad. Skid across people’s yards. Build your skills at the local MTB park. Struggle up dirt roads to careen out-of-control down deer trails. Ride the motherfucker. If you get to the top of anything, mobb down. Mobbing is always sick. I jumped into this shit pretty recently, but my baseline skills from just being an American boy with a BMX bike were more than enough. If I come up on some bullshit obstacle on the trail that scares the shit out of me, I just get off and walk around it. It ain’t no thing, just mountain biking. Who gives a fuck?
You can get as aggressive as you want, dude.
STEP THREE: a bike of your own
By the time the bike-lender wants his spare back, you’re going to be stoked on mountain biking. Time to buy your own rig: a good rule of thumb is to survey the gear on the local trails. Multiply the average suspension travel you see by 0.75–that’s all you’ll need. Mountain bikers love to overdo it on the gear. Don’t be one of those guys. If you only get one mountain bike, a 4 or 5” full-squishy bike will do pretty much anywhere. Take advantage of the bike nerds’ gear lust and scoop some of last year’s shit on Craigslist.
This guy probably thinks that’s a BMX bike!
SOME OTHER STUFF
You’re gonna sweat. That’s okay. You may even like it. Two hours on the MTB can exhaust anyone. But it’s fun and worth it. Definitely beats going to the gym (I’d imagine).
Heading out on a new trail can be a lot like splitboarding: adventure time. Route-finding disasters, mechanical failures, fitness roadblocks, emotional breakdowns–be open to all types of pain. I carry a lot of water, a couple spare tubes, and Percocet.
Prepare: all your favorite Action Sports Archetypes exist within the MTB community: old school purist, new-technology overbuyer, local hero, idiosyncratic weirdo, fun snob, historian, internet talker, fuckin all of them…ain’t nothing new under the sun. Join a squad or stay solo. Whatever. I do think there’s still a lot of room for Cool People to get into MTB, so call me if you’re into just riding around, adventuring, or getting 70% rad.
Buddy biking! That’s cool too.
Ride what you want to. It’s all cool. Robocop-looking dudes in fullface helmets and megapads hitch rides on chairlifts and trucks to ride psychobikes down downhill trails full of crazy ladders and shit. Roadie-looking fitness freaks in squid gear smash along flat boring trails in high gears. Dirt jumpers build shitty trails and pretend they’re BMXers. Whatever: it’s all cool! Every year I try and get a few hours of lift-served monsterbike madness as well as some horrible punishing superclimbs in the sun. Do it all, it can all be fun.
Clothes: all you really need is a pair of padded biker shorts to put under your cut off Dickies. The only goal is to never chafe yer touchy parts. Trust me. These padded shorts go on first, under all your other clothes. (I swear people ask me that!) Get a helmet so you don’t get as many bad looks on the trail from Do-Gooder McPreachyPants too. Gloves can help, but aren’t necessary. I swear. That’s all you need. Skate shoes. You’re just riding a bike around.
I’M TELLING YOU:
Mountain biking is fun as shit. You and your friends should get some bikes and go ride them. In the dirt. The same pitfalls as any other shit apply: you can get caught up worrying about wheel sizes and suspension settings and yadayada. Forget all that noise. Leave that to the internet. Just go ride a bike around in the dirt. You’ll love it.
Ohhhh, combine a mountain bike trip with camping? At a river? With beers and tents and burgers? DUDE. SO GOOD!